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Author Topic: College options for forestry  (Read 1142 times)

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Offline ShaneTweedz

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College options for forestry
« on: January 07, 2020, 10:01:17 PM »
Hi, my name Shane and I am a high school senior who is interested in a forestry degree. I trying to decide between two state schools, UMaine Fort Kent, and UMaine Orono. Cutting to the chase Fort Kent offers a 2 and half year "Applied Forest Management" where Orono offers a 4 year Forestry program. The Orono program is larger and has larger resources(Machinery, woodlot), but the Fort Kent program is cheaper, has a better student to professor ratio, and is closer to where the jobs are. 

Is there a large difference between an Associates and Bachelors in the field? 

If you have a Bachelors will you have better job opportunities (Higher paying, choice over other candidates)?

Has anyone on the board graduated from either of these programs? if so I would love to hear it. 

Thanks for your replies  

Offline Southside

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2020, 10:22:06 PM »
Hi Shane,

Welcome to the Forum.  I did attend UM Ft Kent for a couple of classes years back, excellent school, small, you get to know the professors.  Additionally, close to the big work.  Can't compare the two beyond that but you can't go wrong being in the Valley either.  Good luck with your studies I am sure others will chime in.  
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Offline peakbagger

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2020, 10:56:53 AM »
IMHO If you absolutely know you want to work it woods a smaller program gets your there quicker. Unless things have changed at Orono many forestry folks get exposure to lot of other fields and research. Orono does a lot of fairly advanced research on new things to do with wood. When I went to Orono years ago there were more than a few folks who swapped programs between forestry and engineering.  

The trade off with Orono is it is a big school and no one there are your parents. There are plenty of folks on campus that don't really need to study and they are always willing to encourage you not to. If you haven't grown up at home, there are a lot more distractions that could impact your focus at Orono. 

I wouldn't not be surprised if Fort Kent has some sort of option to head down to Orono if you decide a few more years of schooling is something you want after you get in the program.  

Offline dgdrls

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2020, 05:25:31 PM »
Hi Shane,

Did not attend either school.
In my experience yes, a bachelors will pay bigger benefits in the long haul, you will have a larger skill set to offer.
Its an investment in yourself that's much easier to do when you are young.


Offline celliott

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2020, 05:44:21 PM »
I almost went to Orono. Paul smiths was equal distance from home, both were going to cost about the same, and I liked the small campus better so I ended up a Smitty.

I have an AAS in forest technology. You will probably start doing the same jobs, bachelors will help you go further, is what I was always told. After college I felt my job applications got snubbed more often just because it was an associates degree vs a bachelors. I know this for a fact applying for an entry level job with the state of Vermont forestry division. Application never even got to anyones desk, it was snubbed in the computer system. Regardless of previous experience (I had done ALOT of timber cruising)

Anyways, Im out of the traditional forestry field now for the most part, still involved in the forest products industry. I log part time but am making a good living working at a large scale maple sugaring operation. These operations love forest tech types of people- like working outdoors, solid on tree ID/surveying/property line, harvest and BMP stuff, density plots, forest pests, and just generally working outdoors. Our living is still made with trees. I know its not too big at any colleges yet but the maple industry is certainly a viable career option for forestry students these days. 

I guess Id say it depends what you
want to end up doing for work- if
You want to be a machine operator, probably Fort Kent is the place to go. Field forester/run your own consulting firm, Orono. Anything in between, I dunno lol however I will say business classes are an important aspect of either option.
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Offline celliott

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2020, 05:46:35 PM »
Id also like to add, I started out working towards a bachelors degree. Quickly found out that much school wasnt for me. Took a roundabout trip but I ended up going back to school and earning my associates and saved a fair bit of money doing it (community college). Just finished paying off my student loans. 4+ years of college isnt for everyone.
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Offline ShaneTweedz

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2020, 10:18:24 PM »
Thanks for the replies, I think down the line I would like to work for myself but what do I know. The fort kent program offers a bachelors in business after completion of the forestry AS. Would it be a disadvantage to have a BS in a business vs forestry? Celliott, With the price of a bottle of maple syrup I hope your trees are getting spa visits  :D

Online Wudman

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2020, 09:54:06 AM »
The one thing that a bachelor's degree will do for you is open doors.  A lot of companies will mandate a 4 year degree for entry level positions.  With that said, I don't do anything that field experience wouldn't qualify you for.  Take a look at the "education requirements" for jobs that you would be interested in and work from there.

I had a friend that spent most of his career with one of the big timber companies in a technicians role.  He was the boots on the ground oversight.  That company was bought out by a larger outfit and they deemed his position as requiring a 4 year degree.  He was just shy of retirement age and they did let him stay until he could receive full benefits.  The funny side of the story.........he started a consulting business and they hired him back as a consultant doing much of the same work he was previously.  Decisions don't always make sense when dealing with larger companies.

Also, more education doesn't always mean more "whatever".  I have contracted with PhDs to install inventory plots.  Take a look at licensing requirements for any state that you may be interested to work in.  Some require the minimum of a 4 year degree to call yourself a "Forester".  Best of luck to you.  It is a good time to venture in to operations forestry.  There are not many people coming out of college that are interested in "dirt forestry".  Most of us out here working are getting a bit grey.

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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2020, 06:55:46 PM »
Always best to spend the extra time and get the Bachelor's degree.

Offline kantuckid

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2020, 12:14:59 PM »
Shane, I'm not in Maine but I am in forestry country near the 2nd largest hardwood center in the USA, Morehead, KY(after Hickory, NC) and am a retired career tech school counselor, teacher and have been around people who are foresters in our area. Some were the state guys who certified, gave info for our own forest, others my wife worked with at a local Job Corps center where they tended to be admin people from the Daniel Boone NF. The guy I knew best was in the US Army with me @ Ft Gordon, GA in 1970. He was a four year graduate forester from , as I recall, a school in IL where he came from. He was an outdoorsy guy like me and we fished together in GA & SC when not in our army classes. He wenbt to forestry school to "be in the woods", certainly not to be a desk jockey! so he told me hourly...
So he graduated with a 4yr forestry degree and got his dream job out west in the boonies for Weyerhouser. After a few months doing "real forestry as he called it, meaning in the woods mostly, he was assigned to his desk and never got in the woods. he was ticked off that he'd been so enthused yet made a major career mistake so early in his work life. he went back to school to become a Physical Therapist, got a job where he worked 4 10hours days for FT pay and went to the woods, so to speak, on his own time. That was his life until he got a draft notice and ended up as an Army officer in the Signal Corps.
Many jobs are not what we bargain for especially when education labels you as admin material.
In my 5 plus careers I found there are not easy answers to get to where you'll like it forever and every minute is delightful, ect.. Many times I passed up chances to be more than I was pay wise or higher up the food chain or in a better locale in my last education career! Mostly I was affected by my desire to not move my kids around and bite the bullet for my family.
Interestingly, many people in our work world who we think of as successful also are sort of guilty of having put themselves before family. A persoan e.g. is I could have moved arounbd in Superintendent of Schools jobs instead of making 1/2 as much to keep out 3 sons in thier own life.
Beware what you wish for if you go the 4 year route? Obviously I am playing the devils advocate here and wish you the best.
Never forget that education is not there to "make you smarter", it's a means to an end that hopefully makes for a good life.
Our 3 adult sons all chose their own paths. One a civil engineer(nuclear engineer in the Navy) loves construction and were he to do it over again he'd have chosen to be a construction mgr. and made similar money to his job managing a cities civil engr firm.
His twin chose chemical engr and focuses on energy research and soon will do mostly consulting-he would rather play golf than do the travel but also plans to retire while young.
The oldest did math & physics majors, then aero engineering using a Johson Controls stipend to pay for the maters in engineering but chose to be a Marine and a combat pilot and still flies as a mfg.'s test pilot, likely he'll never work as an engineer.
Look long and hard at where your choices will get you. I have 4 degrees yet made more money as an indistrial millwright and also as a foreman in a meat packing plant than any of my degreed jobs. Twice as much pulling wrenches as when working as a HS principal at my journeys end in the world of work.
Good luck! and ask lots of questions, face to face, from people in your area of interest who are working at those jobs not just the faculty folks. Don't allow family to plan your career either. They may know you but that's no substitute for knowledge in a work area. Getting multiple opinions matters much as many people are "cup half full" or ill placed or whatever else that complicates their reaction to a type of work.  
 
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Offline ppine

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2020, 02:44:46 PM »
Forestry is a competitive field, but it is making a comeback.  More education helps you compete. 
I got a Master's Degree from the Univ of Washington and still made a living sometimes with a saw. 

Decide if you want to be tech or a forester.  If you want to be a forester then you need a 4 year degree. 
Forester

Offline BrandonTN

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2021, 04:14:44 AM »
Shane, if you know you want to work professionally as forester, then the 4 yr BS degree is a must; however, forestry technician degrees do not usually require a 2 yr degree, but having one helps you get in.

With that said, consider joining the fulltime workforce for a few years to get a taste of the real-world work industries/fields before comitting to a college degree. If interested in forestry, search high and low for any entry level grunt positions that deal with working outdoors in the woods, in nurseries or with trees.

Another option could be to commit to a 2 yr forestry tech type of degree so that you can start getting work experience sooner. The courses you'd take in that program would qualify you for entry level forestry jobs that would give you a great idea of what a forester's job would entail. At that point, you'd be positioned to transfer credits to a 4yr Univ forestry school (be sure it's Society of American Foresters accredited!) or to continue as a forestry tech. If it turns out a non-forestry field sounds better, you could still transfer credits towards another 4 yr degree. Or you may find a 4 yr degree is not necessary for your livelihood.

I've been working as a forester with the federal govt (Forest Service) since 2014, and I didn't finish my 4yr forestry degree until I was 29. Time is on your side, and the journey is not cookie-cutter, our paths vary wildly in time and space!
Good to be back home in the Southeast

Offline BrandonTN

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2021, 01:17:51 AM »
oops
Good to be back home in the Southeast

Offline doc henderson

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2021, 06:46:47 AM »
a bit off topic, but I have 12 years of education, and it all started at my hometown community college.  my wife is a pharmacist and started at one as well.  you do not want a lesser degree to hold you back later in life but I agree you do not want to spend a chunk of change and time and end up too far down the road to easily change directions.  good luck.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2021, 08:06:28 AM »
Shane- where are you?  :D
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Offline Sauna freak

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2021, 10:04:24 PM »
Be sure it is absolutely your lifelong desire to be a forester or technician. God bless you if it is. I went that route, as I was not familiar with "the trades" and grew up in a family where you were expected to get a college degree and tradesmen were looked down on.  Academia was not my happy place.  I was smart enough, got good enough marks on exams, but the dogma of doing the meaningless busywork of constant study, papers, classes on top of classes burned me out.  I went in with a good working knowledge of operational forestry as I worked part time in a 2 year program thinning and marking timber before I went on to UW Stevens Point for my BS, and that helped me land basically dream jobs over the summer to gain experience and contacts.  My way was paved...until I started butting heads with professors.  Booklearned forestry is not the same as actual forestry.  Many of my professors practiced from the preservationist perspective rather than the conservationist.  Some to the point of punitive grading of differing opinions.  Girls, beer and deer hunting didn't help.  I ended up with the credits, but not the GPA to graduate.  Took another dream summer gig with basically a free reign across the eastern U.P. of Michigan doing the regional foresters field surveys of regen and standing stock.  I was basically hired for a permanent state position he would keep open for me once I got my diploma.  Good fire year, and I got deployed to a fire that took out 2 miles of transmission electric.  We were quartered in the same hotel as the linemen doing electric repair while we were mopping up and I got to talking to them and found out how much they make.  Rather than return to school, I took a job as an entry level electrical worker and never looked back.  An injury knocked me out of linemen school, but I stayed on as a groundman, got a CDL, and worked my way into a specialty field.  As a foremen (10 years after I dropped out of forestry school), I was making more than the engineers who design our work and more than double some of my former classmates who had gone on to get Masters in forest management and land very good positions.  There is very good money and a shortage of labor in the trades, especially linemen.  It is rewarding, outdoor, varied and sometimes dangerous work.  If forestry is in your blood, go for the BS.  If not, consider a good trade program.  I still practice forestry, but do it on my own properties I purchased with overtime money.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2021, 07:13:47 AM »
I enjoyed reading that!
 As a career counselor for many years who worked in trades then taught and worked in tech education, I had a similar personal circular career path and your experience isn't that unusual. Not all end up gainfully employed like sauna freak though...
 Every vocational school I worked in had several teachers who had similar paths to the Sauna Freak's experience. 
On TV, written media it's been fashionable for several years to make positive comments about trades work vs. college but those same commenters hold tight onto what's best for their own children in nice, neat occupations and their Ivy league mentalities live onward.
Even in my area where trades people are the higher earners among who lives here people still lean heavily toward career fields that are what I call clean fingernails work. 
You would not believe how many parents have paraded their kid to me saying "don't you think Johnny or Susie should be a -fill in the blank-? To which I'd redirect to the kid with-what do you like? 
I went into middle school/junior high schools in Kentucky doing career inventories for a number of years, as mandated by the KY school regs that came out of KERA, what was supposed to reform our public education system to balance the curriculum and funding with a heavy dose of reality added to the emphasis on tech education. When I was a principal those regs filled the entire back wall of my office~ The career stuff I did was mostly was 7th & 8th grades and from ~ 1990 to 2000. I administered and discussed those career inventories with thousands of kids. Some schools were very reluctant to have a "lowly vo-tech person in their classroom" while others who valued real work had no issue. It was interesting to have a third of the kids in a room who wanted to become Jacque Cousteau or 15 girls who wanted to be a Forensic Scientist-this was during the plethora of crime forensics TV shows like- CDI. The kids didn't know it but one of the more well known, real, criminal anthropological forensics women in the world was a KY State Police lady named Dr. Emily Craig. 
Toughest kids to talk to sensibly were those special kids who wanted to become a pilot or something far beyond their capabilities or the kids who were so locked in by parental controls they were not open minded-yes it showed. 
Be an advocate for kids to seek their own life path.   
 
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2021, 04:58:12 AM »
We need lots of tradesmen/women. So if you're thinking of that, I guarantee you'll have a job. I have a forestry degree but a forester's job is scarce in these parts. Most of the DNR offices are staffed with forest technicians, plus most forester positions in big companies and higher level government, require bilingualism as #1 priority before anything. There are few exceptions to that, depending on who you know. We have two official languages here and you've got to be able to get your message across. So that is just a part of the skill set. I know some of us get angry over language barriers, but it is what it is. Most of the folks I graduated with all left this province for work. I did to, but I returned and made more money at our woodlot owner association, then they paid in remote camp work in coastal BC. Then I went from there working seasonally with a thinning contractor, couldn't be happier. New house, bills all paid, woodlot to play on, nothing to complain about. I've got anything the average Joe has and more. ;D
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: College options for forestry
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2021, 07:22:34 AM »
I just took googles COL factor times what I made as a mechanic/millwright in industry in 1973 when I went back to college, age 30 and it comes out to ~5 times what I made as a HS principal in 2001-02 SY when I retired from FT work. I can say that I was facing a minimum of 7 more years of 3rd shift and very little family time when I left my better paying trade work for lala land via a degree. When I began teaching at a Vo-tech School in 1974, it was actually across the street from where I was complete my bachelors in 3 semesters. I made ~ the same per month as I got for one Sunday shift in the factory. The couple of Spring Breaks/fall breaks/holiday periods that I experienced in college as an adult student were sort of like a prison escape compared to my two weeks a year in industry. 
Thing is, and this really matters, until we get across to the overall population the true value of skilled work it's all on us. Until people buy in it's all lip service. 
My hero for creating true dignity toward the entire world of work is still Mike Rowe, yea for Mike! ;D 
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